Is Gambling Legal in India?

Get the full overview of the legal situation of gambling in India right here

Many of our readers have asked us if it's legal to gamble in India. We understand why many of you are having this concern, so we decided to write this in-depth article to give you the most correct answer and guide you to gamble legally in India. The Indian gambling law is vague and unclear, which makes a lot of people confused. We are all good citizens, and none of us wants to break the law.

Through our own research, we have always believed that gambling is legal in India, but to make the point very clear, we decided to team up with some of India’s top legal experts to make absolutely sure that we are on the right side of the law.

When it comes to gambling, the practice is frowned upon by some Indians and embraced by many others. Gambling is really an issue that divides the country. Some believe it should be fully legal, others believe it should be regulated and some conservatives believe it should be completely prohibited.

But what is the current legal situation of gambling in India? Unfortunately, the answer is not that straightforward. In this article, you will discover how and where you can gamble legally, which depends a lot on where you live and how you intend to gamble.

Is it legal to gamble in India?

To give you the most correct answer to this question, we have allied ourselves with one of the top legal experts on gambling in India, Mr. Manoj Mishra, Senior Advocate in the Odisha State Bar Council. Through our interview with him, he will attempt to give us the most legal and correct information in this article. So let’s start from the beginning.

Gambling was first prohibited in India during the colonial period under the Public Gambling Act of 1867. This law made it illegal to offer gambling services on a federal level, as well as to visit and use a public gambling facility. The law obviously did not make any mention of online gambling, as it was made many years before the invention of the internet.

Legality of Gambling in India

Quote from Mr. Manoj Kumar Mishra, Senior Advocate

So along comes the internet, and people start asking: Does that mean online gambling is legal, because it is not expressly forbidden under the law of 1867? The short answer is yes. If the government of India had wanted to fully prohibit online gambling, they could have amended the law to prohibit online gambling, but they never did that.

Instead, they left it up to the individual states to decide whether or not to legalise or prohibit gambling in their territory. In the state of Maharashtra, online gambling is completely prohibited, whereas, in the states of Sikkim and Goa, online gambling is officially legal and regulated.

In most other Indian states, there are no specific laws regarding online gambling, which makes it a legal grey area. For example, in the state of Tamil Nadu, it is neither legal nor illegal to gamble online. Therefore, it is not a prosecutable offense to gamble online in any state except Maharashtra.

Is Gambling Legal in India

Quote from Mr. Manoj Kumar Mishra, Senior Advocate

We understand that some people may have different interpretations of the law, but after having consulted with Mr. Manoj Mishra and several other legal experts in India, they have ensured us that online gambling is not a prosecutable offense, and no one has ever been convicted or let alone prosecuted for online gambling.

The law simply states that gambling providers may not operate on Indian territory unless expressly allowed by the individual states. That is why all of the betting sites and online casinos we recommend are located outside India. It is still completely legal and possible for Indian players to start an account and place bets with these online gambling sites.

Horse racing is legal but cricket is not

In 1996, it was decided by the Supreme Court of India that horse race betting should be legal because it is skill-based rather than based on luck. This beckons the question, why is horse race betting based on skill when cricket or football betting is not? It takes at least the same amount of skill to predict the outcome of a cricket match, no?

Although we certainly agree that horse race betting should be legal, it seems completely ridiculous to make this distinction from any other sport. The only reason why policymakers decided to legalise horse race betting, is because they know that if they prohibited this, it would be the end of horse breeding in India, which has become a very profitable and prominent industry in India.

One could then ask, isn't it kind of hypocritical to say gambling is illegal, but still legalise gambling on a few select sports such as horse racing and rummy? This is a classic example of the contradictory gambling laws of India. The government should be consistent in their policy and legalise gambling on all sports throughout India.

When will gambling be fully legalised in India?

The Indian Government are perfectly aware that many citizens are engaged in online gambling, and if they really wanted to make it illegal, they would have amended the current law to include prohibition of online gambling. This has never been done, which means that online gambling continues to be legal in India to this day.

Now the government of India and many state governments are actually debating whether to legalise gambling in India completely. We believe that this would be a very smart thing to do. It would allow the government of India to collect taxes on the enormous online gambling industry, instead of it’s citizens donating all this tax money to foreign governments.

It would also help the Indian people feel more comfortable with online gambling, knowing that it is not only legal, but also sanctioned and regulated by the federal government of India.

Please note that the information found on this page does not constitute legal advice.

Frequently Asked Questions about Indian Gambling Laws

Is it legal to gamble in India?

Yes, with the exception of the state of Maharashtra.

Do I risk anything by gambling in India?

In our opinion, no. According to some of the top legal experts in India, they have no knowledge about anyone who has been prosecuted or convicted for online gambling ever.